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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Asian Coins| ▸ |China||View Options:  |  |  |   

Coins of China

The earliest Chinese proto-coins, as early as 770 - 476 B.C., were imitations of the cowrie shells used in ceremonial exchanges. The first metal coins, also introduced in this period, were not initially round; instead, they were knife shaped or spade shaped. Round metal coins with a round hole, and then later a square hole, in the center were first introduced around 350 B.C. The beginning of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 B.C.), the first dynasty to unify China, standardized coinage for the whole Empire. At first, coinage was limited to use around the capital city district but by the beginning of the Han Dynasty, coins were widely used for paying taxes, salaries, and fines. Ancient Chinese coins are markedly different from coins produced in the west. Chinese coins were cast in molds, unlike western coins which were typically struck (hammered) or, in later times, milled. Chinese coins were usually made from bronze, brass, or iron. Precious metals like gold and silver were uncommonly used. The alloys of the coin metals varied considerably. Most Chinese coins were produced with a square hole in the middle. At the mint coins were threaded on a square rod so that the rough edges could be filed smooth on a lathe, after which they were threaded on strings for ease of handling. Official coin production was sometimes spread over many mint locations throughout the country. Aside from officially produced coins, private coining was common during many stages of Chinese history. At times private coining was tolerated, sometimes it was illegal. Some coins were produced in very large numbers. During the Western Han, an average of 220 million coins a year were produced. Some other types were of limited circulation and are extremely rare today.

Lot of 29 Coins of Japan, China, Hong Kong, Etc.

|Medieval| |&| |Modern| |Bulk| |Lots|, |Lot| |of| |29| |Coins| |of| |Japan,| |China,| |Hong| |Kong,| |Etc.|
 
LT97475. Lot of 29 coins of Japan, China, Hong Kong, etc., ex Numismatik Naumann auction 96 (1 Nov 2020), lot 950; as-is, no returns; $325.00 SALE |PRICE| $293.00
 


China, Western Han Dynasty, 206 B.C. - 25 A.D., Lot of 7 Cash Coins

|China|, |China,| |Western| |Han| |Dynasty,| |206| |B.C.| |-| |25| |A.D.,| |Lot| |of| |7| |Cash| |Coins||Lot|
Ancient Chinese coins are markedly different from coins produced in the west. Chinese coins were cast in molds, unlike western coins which were typically struck (hammered) or, in later times, milled. Chinese coins were usually made from bronze, brass, or iron.
LT96839. Bronze Lot, Lot of seven early cash coins, as found patina and deposits, weight c. 2.2 g, maximum diameter c. 22-24 mm, 175 - 119 B.C.; unattributed to type, no tags or flips, the actual coins in the photograph, as-is, no returns, LOT OF 7 COINS; $14.00 SALE |PRICE| $12.60
 


China, Western Han Dynasty, 206 B.C. - 25 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Western| |Han| |Dynasty,| |206| |B.C.| |-| |25| |A.D.||4| |zhu|
The banliang, round with a square hole in the middle, was the first unified currency of China, introduced by the first emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 B.C. Before that, a variety of coins were used in China, usually in the form of blades (knife money) or other implements, though round coins with square holes were used by the state of Zhou before it was extinguished by Qin in 249 B.C. Banliang coinage was part of a broader Qin standardization plan which also unified weights, measures and axle width. By the time this coin was issued, a full monetary economy had developed, with taxes, salaries and fines paid in coins. An average of 220 million coins were produced each year.
CH96838. Bronze 4 zhu, Hartill 7.16 - 7.17; Mitchiner ATEC 2 5156 (perhaps other varieties in the lot), near Fine or better, as found patina and deposits, weight c. 2.7 g, maximum diameter 24 mm, 175 - 119 B.C.; obverse Ban Liang, no rims; reverse plain, no rims; randomly selected from the same lot as the coins in the photograph, ONE COIN; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhen Zong, 998 - 1022 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Zhen| |Zong,| |998| |-| |1022| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Zhenzong's reign was noted for consolidation of power and strengthening the Song Empire. The empire prospered, and its military might reinforced. However, 1004, the Khitans waged war. Zhenzong struck back but despite initial successes, in 1005, concluded the humiliating Shanyuan Treaty. The treaty brought over a century of peace, but at the price of an inferior position to the Liao Empire, and an annual tribute of 100,000 ounces of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The admission of inferiority would come to plague the foreign affairs of the Song Empire, while the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers.
CH92225. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 16.43, Schjoth 469, Gorny NS 05.01, Fisher 876, gF, green patina, deposits and encrustations, weight 3.661 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, 998 - 1003 A.D.; obverse Xian Ping yuan bao, clockwise, regular script; reverse plain; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhen Zong, 997 - 1022 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Zhen| |Zong,| |997| |-| |1022| |A.D.||1| |cash|
This type is read clockwise - top, right, bottom, left.

Zhezong ascended the throne at age 10 under the supervision of Empress Dowager Gao. He was powerless until the Empress' death in 1093. Under Zhenzong the country prospered. But after the Khitan attacked, despite initial successes, he concluded a treaty agreeing to an inferior position and an annual tribute of 100,000 oz. of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The treaty brought over a century of peace, but the admission of inferiority would plague foreign affairs and the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers. Zhezong died in 1100 in Kaifeng and was succeeded by his younger brother. He was only 24.
CH92229. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 08.11, Hartill 16.59, Schjoth 477, Fisher 891, aF, as found patina, light deposits and encrustations, weight 3.662 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, 1008 - 1016 A.D.; obverse Xiang Fu tong bao, regular script, clockwise, two dot tong; reverse plain; from a collection of 90 different Chinese cash coin types (no duplicates) all selected from a single hoard found on Java; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Ren Zong, 1022 - 1063 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Ren| |Zong,| |1022| |-| |1063| |A.D.||1| |cash|
Renzong was the fourth emperor of the Song dynasty. He reigned for about 41 years and was the longest reigning Song dynasty emperor. Despite his long reign, Renzong is not widely known. His reign marked the high point of Song influences and powers but was also the beginning of its slow disintegration that would persist over the next century and a half.
CH92243. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 12.a.01, Hartill 16.87, Schjoth 492, Fisher 902, F, as found colorful patina, deposits and encrustations, weight 3.57 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, 1034 - 1038 A.D.; obverse Jing You yuan bao, seal script, clockwise; reverse plain; from a collection of 90 different Chinese cash coin types (no duplicates) all selected from a single hoard found on Java; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Shen Zong, 1067 - 1085 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Shen| |Zong,| |1067| |-| |1085| |A.D.||1| |cash|
Instead of the usual square, the shape of the hole on this coin resembles a flower. The Chinese referred to this type of hole as a flower hole, rosette hole, or chestnut hole. Westerners sometimes refer to them as a star hole. The Chinese call similar hexagon holes as turtle shell holes. These whole variations were created by mint workers doing final detail work, using a chisel or a file to remove excess metal that flowed into the center hole during casting. Creating these fancy holes was certainly intentional but the purpose is unknown.
CH92278. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 27.a, Hartill 16.210, Schjoth 545, Fisher 964, aF, flower hole, light deposits and encrustations, weight 3.224 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 0o, 1078 - 1085 A.D.; obverse Yuan Feng tong bao, seal script, clockwise, large characters; reverse plain; from a collection of 90 different Chinese cash coin types (no duplicates) all selected from a single hoard found on Java; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhe Zong, 1086 - 1100 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Zhe| |Zong,| |1086| |-| |1100| |A.D.||1| |cash|
Zhezong ascended the throne at age 9 under the supervision of Empress Dowager Gao. He was powerless until the Empress' death in 1093. Under Zhenzong the country prospered. But after the Khitan attacked, despite initial successes, he concluded a treaty agreeing to an inferior position and an annual tribute of 100,000 oz. of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The treaty brought over a century of peace, but the admission of inferiority would plague foreign affairs and the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers. Zhezong died in 1100 in Kaifeng and was succeeded by his younger brother. He was only 24.
CH92289. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 29.a, Hartill 16.292, Schjoth 585, Fisher 990, gF, colorful patina, deposits, and encrustations, weight 3.745 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1094 - 1097 A.D.; obverse Shao Sheng yuan bao, seal script, clockwise, round bao; reverse plain; from a collection of 90 different Chinese cash coin types (no duplicates) all selected from a single hoard found on Java; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Ren Zong, 1022 - 1063 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Ren| |Zong,| |1022| |-| |1063| |A.D.||1| |cash|
Renzong was the fourth emperor of the Song dynasty. He reigned for about 41 years and was the longest reigning Song dynasty emperor. Despite his long reign, Renzong is not widely known. His reign marked the high point of Song influences and powers but was also the beginning of its slow disintegration that would persist over the next century and a half.
CH92244. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 12.a.04, Hartill 16.87, Schjoth 492, Fisher 902, F, as found deposits and encrustations, weight 3.629 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, 1034 - 1038 A.D.; obverse Jing You yuan bao, seal script, clockwise; reverse plain; from a collection of 90 different Chinese cash coin types (no duplicates) all selected from a single hoard found on Java; $10.00 SALE |PRICE| $9.00
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Ren Zong, 1022 - 1063 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Ren| |Zong,| |1022| |-| |1063| |A.D.||1| |cash|
Renzong was the fourth emperor of the Song dynasty. He reigned for about 41 years and was the longest reigning Song dynasty emperor. Despite his long reign, Renzong is not widely known. His reign marked the high point of Song influences and powers but was also the beginning of its slow disintegration that would persist over the next century and a half.
CH92245. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 13.b, Hartill 16.105, Schjoth 499, F, light deposits and encrustations, small edge crack, weight 3.502 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 0o, 1039 - 1054 A.D.; obverse Huang Song tong bao, tong in li script, other characters in regular script; reverse plain; from a collection of 90 different Chinese cash coin types (no duplicates) all selected from a single hoard found on Java; $10.00 SALE |PRICE| $9.00
 




  



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REFERENCES|

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Hartill, D. Cast Chinese Coins. (Victoria, BC, 2005).
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Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins and Their Values, Vol. 3: Non-Islamic States & Western Colonies. (London, 1979).
Novak, J. A Working Aid for Collectors of Annamese Coins. (Merced, CA, 1989).
Peng, X. A Monetary History of China (Zhongguo Huobo Shi). Trans. Edward H Kaplan. (Bellingham, WA, 1994).
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Scott Semans World Coins, The Daniel K.E. Ching Sale, Seattle, 2 June 1991.
Thierry, F. Monnaies chinoises. I L'Antiquité préimpériale. (Paris, 1997).
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